The end of the year is a time of reflection and resolution for many. We look back to learn and we look ahead to hope. If you have just begun your immigration journey, or it is well underway, knowing what’s in store for immigrants in 2020 will help you prepare for important changes. We have prepared a list of a few of the most notable updates to immigration processes and policies—as well as a few that we expect will stay the same.
Changes in Fees for Certain Applications
As we discussed last month, the application fees for citizenship, permanent residence, asylum, work permits, DACA, and more will increase. Other applications, such as the Notice of Appeal Decision and the Application to Replace Permanent Residence Card, will see a decrease in fees.
Historic Lows for Refugee Admissions
In the years of the Obama administration, the limit for refugee admissions was 110,000 per year. In September of 2019, Trump dramatically reduced this cap to 18,000. Multiple organizations have sued the government for this move, however, and more than half of the country’s governors have pledged to continue resettling refugees. However, the cap will likely not change, and 2021’s cap will likely be similar.
The Workplace May Face More Investigations
The rate of workplace investigations has quadrupled in less than 3 years, and this level of enforcement will likely continue in 2020. Furthermore, a Supreme Court case may allow prosecutors at the local level to prosecute employers and their immigrant employees who are working without authorization.
Tightening Restrictions for H-1B/L-1 Visa Holders and International Students
In a recent announcement, USCIS revealed plans to release a new rule to tighten and enforce the definition of a “specialty occupation.” The ultimate goal is to award H-1B visas only to those considered “the best and the brightest foreign nationals.” USCIS says it intends to protect U.S. workers, wages, and protections, as well as ensure employers pay H-1B visa holders appropriate wages. The announcement emphasizes the purpose of the H-1B visa program as supplementing the U.S. workforce. In a similar manner, USCIS plans to revise the definition of specialized knowledge regarding L-1 visas. Employers who use these programs are concerned because the denial rates are already staggering.
International students may also experience an increase in restrictions. The Trump administration has announced plans to provide a maximum period of authorized stay to theoretically reduce the number of students who overstay their visas. USCIS also plans to modify Optional Practical Training, which is the temporary employment authorized for students before and after they complete their studies.
Barring Spouses of H-1B Workers from Employment Authorization
Currently, H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders can obtain employment authorization documents (EADs) so they can work in the U.S. along with their spouses. However, USCIS plans to revoke this eligibility by March of 2020.
Those Considered a “Public Charge” May Become Inadmissible
The Trump administration has moved to significantly reduce immigration rates using two restrictions: barring immigrants without health insurance from entering the U.S., and barring immigrants the government considers “likely at any time to become a public charge” from applying for admission or adjusting their immigration status. A “public charge” refers to anyone who relies on the government for assistance and support, rather than supporting themselves and contributing to society. How USCIS will determine who is and is not a public charge is still being decided.
If the two restrictions become finalized, they will affect thousands of immigrants every year. Currently, judges have blocked the moves, but courts may overturn the blocks at some point in 2020.
DACA Remains on Hold
More than two years ago, the Trump administration moved to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), but the Supreme Court heard opposition to this decision on November 12th. According to the National Immigration Law Center, a final decision should arrive by June of 2020. Others argue that the closer we get to the election, the less likely the matter will be resolved.
Contact Gambacorta Law for Immediate Support
One of the most significant events that will influence the future of immigration is the 2020 election. The Trump administration has shown no sign of slowing its campaign against immigration, and reelection will require us to prepare even more aggressively for legal hurdles in between you and your immigration goals.
Because this process becomes increasingly difficult each year, completing your journey as soon as possible is vital for your success. At Gambacorta Law, we work with a sense of urgency because we understand what is at stake. We are fully prepared to fight for the rights and opportunities you deserve.
Learn more about how we can help you by calling (847) 443-9303 or scheduling your initial consultation today.